AT the centre of today’s picture, taken before the last war, is the Blue Anchor Public House, most suitable for a harbour town one would agree. I have no recollection of raising a glass there, but I do recollect buying vegetables there while it was awaiting demolition.
I do recollect a small footpath at the rear which had at one time led to a very small private school and later had been a means of escape from fire at the town’s major cinema, when this little path could enable the escapees to get past the rear of three shops and still reach the High Street.
Escape from the other side would have been into the grounds of Sussex Lodge, a fine Georgian residence which had been home to the cinema owner.
To the left, beyond the large building, was Well Court Farm. The mass of darkness above it is very misleading. Way up there had been Meeching Place (lastly occupied by Caroline Catt, daughter of the miller at Tide Mills). This property and the convent which took it over were noted for the masses of fine trees which occupied the space blanked out in the picture. So below the farm building is the same curved wall into Meeching Road which now houses today’s taxi office. My interest is, what was the large three storied building? Was it demolished (road straightening) and replaced by three shops with housing above, with the narrow entrance to the cinema being added later? Although it would have been most delightful to view a picture of 1880, it still remains rather confusing. It could be a barber’s pole sticking up from the side of the Blue Anchor, for that, what are the boys up to nearer right. I was involved with an upright grand piano which had lived in the pub and finished in Piddinghoe, near where also a Blue Anchor was planted in the adjoining garden. In the 1970s I think, I had been asked to help provide speakers in a film ‘The Road to D-Day’ to tell of their experiences of Newhaven. They included English, Canadians, those from the West Country but mostly Americans. Of course all could have met at the time of D-Day. One informant said in jest that there were more of the three nationalities killed in the Blue Anchor, Newhaven, than on the D-Day beaches. The informant may have been Bill Packham, the Newhaven policeman. Some of whose memories were recorded.
With all the enlightening going around now on what could be done with ‘poor old Newhaven’, maybe it would be a good idea to show one of the sites in action as what it had been all of its life, the Marine Workshops on the Railway Quay, just south from the swing bridge.
Here is a view from 1905. Many men would be at work on the ship outside or anywhere, the scope was vast. I remember a group picture of staff together outside and they numbered about 100. There were four blacksmiths and they had four of their outfits along the right side as you look at the snap and each had to have a helper. Outside would haven been the tripod, Sheelegs Crane, capable of leaning over the river and could put railway locomotives into ships. What an amusement centre could be made from one of those. Dear Bob Holden used to stagger up the bag leg (a crude form of ladder) with a lifeboat flag and pole and erect it at the top on Lifeboat Fete day, and of course go up again to retrieve it. Mind you, I had cause last autumn to accompany a visiting grandson as he was taken around attractions of not too far away, at a zoo, and though no attraction to me from the way children seem to amuse themselves these days, the marine shops with the possible attractions would be filled and the schools empty and the parents at the law courts. Oh well, it was only an idea that developed as we went along.